PCHR Condemns IOF Attack on Birzeit University: 5 Students Arrested and One Injured by Birzeit University Gate, Northern Ramallah
Date: 11 January 2022
Time: 10:30 GMT
On Monday afternoon, 10 January 2022, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested 5 students and wounded one of them at the Birzeit University entrance in Birzeit, northern Ramallah in central West Bank, in an IOF raid on the university, during which IOF confiscated models from the faculty of science.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human rights (PCHR), at around 13:10 on Monday, 10 January 2022, an Israeli Special Unit called “Mista’arvim” operating undercover and dressed as Palestinians sneaked into Birzeit, northern Ramallah, in a white bus. The Unit stationed near the western gate of Birzeit University and stopped 5 students as they stepped out of their car at the gates, to hold a meeting with the Trade Union at the University in order to discuss students and university matters. The students tried to run towards the university, but the Israeli Unit chased and opened fire at them, wounding one of them. They arrested the five students and took them to an IOF site in “Beit El” settlement, north of al-Bireh. IOF later released one of them and kept the others in custody.
The arrested students were identified as Ismail Barghouthi, who was wounded with a bullet in his lower limbs; Waleed Harazneh; Qassem Nakhleh; Mohammed al-Khatib and Abdel Hafez al-Sharabati, who was released a few hours later.
‘Abdel Hafez Hisham al-Sharabati said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:
“At around 13:30, I arrived along with my colleagues, Isma’il al-Barghouthi, Mohammed al-Khatib; Qassam Nakhleh and Waleed Harazneh, at the western gate of Birzeit University in a white Kia car. When we stepped out of the car, we were surprised with heavy shooting around us. I saw an Israeli unit dressed in plain clothes and accompanied by Israeli soldiers, so I knew they were lying in ambush. We tried to escape towards the university dorms, but we heard heavy shooting and stopped. Two of the Unit’s members surrounded me and handcuffed me, taking me to the bus.”
“I saw an Israeli officer open fire at my colleague, Isma’il al-Barghouthi, wounding him with a live bullet in his left thigh. The officers tried to provide first aid to him before taking us to the Caravelle microbus. Afterwards, I was taken to “Beit El” settlement, north of al-Bireh city, interrogated for few hours about the student union’s activity at the university and then released. I knew later that Isma’il was transferred to an Israeli hospital for treatment.”
It should be noted that this is the 2nd attack that Birzeit University was subjected to by IOF within less than a month. On 14 December 2021, IOF backed by military vehicles raided and searched the main campus of Birzeit University in northern Ramallah. During which, they beat and pushed university security officer, Ahmed Jamal Hamdan (40). As a result, he sustained bruises in his foot. Also, IOF confiscated the cell phones of 5 other security officers and ordered them to open the buildings of three colleges, where they confiscated models from the science college and flags from the cupboards belonging to the university student blocs. Two hours later, IOF withdrew from Birzeit city and university, and no other incidents were reported.
PCHR condemns the attack on Birzeit University and its students and sees it in light of the greater context of Israeli attacks on Palestinian unions and civil society organizations, including the attacks on educational institutions as IOF repeatedly raided universities terrorizing students and faculty members as those incidents included the use of firearms.
PCHR calls on international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take serious action to stop IOF’s crimes against Palestinian civilians and civil society organizations.